TECH

BlackBerry Passport Preview: I'm Not Sure How To Use It (Yet)

26/09/2014 12:26 BST | Updated 26/09/2014 12:59 BST

BlackBerry has just unveiled the Passport, It's a large, heavy, square device that blends a 4.5-inch display with a three-row physical keyboard.

It's BlackBerry going back to basics, or at least that's what I thought.

When you first pick the phone up it immediately becomes clear that this isn't your average smartphone. It laughs in the face of conventional smartphone design by being wide, square, thick and heavy.

blackberry passport

Weirdly though it doesn't feel like a step backwards, or perhaps that because there is no step backwards because it feels like one-of-a-kind. There are no places for it to step.

The build quality is incredibly solid, blending a metal band that surrounds the phone with a large glass display that curves down at the edges, echoing the technique found in the iPhone 6.

It's not terribly designed, it's just not beautiful either. It's like an everyday suit.

The next thing you notice is that this is not going to be a one-handed phone. In fairness no BlackBerry with a keyboard ever has, but this really isn't for one hand. It's just too wide.

blackberry passport

Clicking away on the keyboard is like a step back in time, the keys feel solid and although we're not entirely enamored by how squashed it is, there's every chance we could return to our speed typing days of old.

One of the neat features that makes the keyboard more useful is that the entire surface is touch sensitive, transforming the keyboard into the optical trackpad that had become so vital to using the later BlackBerrys.

It's a neat feature and it does go someway towards helping the experience of using both physical and touch-sensitive surfaces feel less jarring.

Above the phone is the 4.5-inch display. With a resolution of 1440x1440 it's big, bright and stunningly clear.

BlackBerry has updated the software to BlackBerry 10.3, this adds a number of key features, the first of which is the addition of the Amazon App Store.

That's right, Android apps are finally heading to BlackBerry (well sort of). It's Amazon's curated App Store so while it won't be the whole Android experience and it absolutely still means no YouTube, it's a welcome addition nonetheless.

The Hub is largely unchanged from when BlackBerry first unveiled its all-in-one-inbox and it remains to be seen if BlackBerry has finally cracked it.

blackberry passport

On the back you'll find a 13MP camera that BlackBerry claims is its best yet. We'll be able to get a better idea after having given it a proper test.

One of BlackBerry's biggest claims about the Passport is that it has a 30-hour battery life. This is a bold claim indeed and as with Sony's Xperia Z3 we'll absolutely be putting that to the test.

For now though this is an intriguing device. It feels like it shouldn't really work so whether or not we're proven right or wrong will remain to be seen.

blackberry passport